The Massachusetts Community Colleges Go Open project was designed to address the rising cost of textbooks. This initiative saves students money by using free open educational resources. As a result of this project, 9000 students are saving $1.2 million dollars in textbook costs this year. But, the initiative was never just about saving money. This statewide project pulled together 15 independent community colleges to collaborate and support one another through the development of an OER network, while fostering growth of new and existing projects at each campus.
Designed and led by Jody Carson (Professor, Early Childhood Education) and Sue Tashjian (Coordinator, Instructional Technology) of Northern Essex Community College, this project was built off the existing Adopt Open project at NECC. A statewide network of local coordinators (one for each college) created Go Open mini-grants in which faculty could adopt, adapt or build OER for courses. Collaboration across departments and campuses was highly encouraged, because these collaborations result in important pedagogical and curricular discussions and changes. Faculty were supported through every step, received training on best practices in OER design and in creating accessible materials.
Another great result of the project was the Northeast OER Summit. Working with a planning committee of 30 people, Sue and Jody co-chaired the Summit, held in June, 2017. More than 260 attended one or both days of the Summit and represented more than 20 different states. The regional event shows a need for smaller, more localized OER events for those unable to travel to the large, national events. The second annual Northeast OER Summit will be held this year on May 31st and June 1st.
From a small, local effort to save students money on textbooks to a statewide initiative which fed back into local campus initiatives, this project has secured OER as a priority in the future of higher education in Massachusetts.
Northern Essex Community College
United States, Haverhill, MA